THE government’s delay on publishing its long-awaited railway investment plan - which mooted a series of improvements on lines and stations across the borough - is leaving local transport leaders in limbo, according to a fed-up MP.
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis - who is also Mayor of South Yorkshire - revealed the so-called Integrated Rail Plan will not be published until the autumn.
It will set out the government’s plans for rail investment in the north, including the HS2 ‘phase 2b’ eastern leg and Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme, which would create a new station in the Dearne Valley.
Dan told the Chronicle: “We’ve now been waiting for eight months to see the Integrated Rail Plan - this ongoing delay is completely unacceptable.
“As a consequence, we’re being asked to make impossible decisions about vital rail links without even seeing the government’s list of rail projects.
“This continued delay further fuels the suspicion that what is being planned falls far short of the promises that were made.
“Indeed, after a certain point, delay starts to send a strong message of its own.
“Making our rail network fit for the 21st century does not rely on one single infrastructure project.
“If we are to realise our enormous potential, what we need is truly transformative investment that delivers east-west and north-south connectivity.
“This includes projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail and the new proposed Dearne Valley station.”
Although HS2 will only skirt the borough at Brierley, a key element of the plan is the proposed new Dearne Valley railway station - expected to be in Goldthorpe - which will connect Liverpool, Manchester and its airport, to Leeds, as well as linking to HS2.
The station would offer connections to Sheffield in 12 minutes, Leeds in 15 minutes, York in 20 minutes, Birmingham Curzon Street in 56 minutes and London Euston in 95 minutes.
“I struggle to see how this government can claim to be serious about ‘levelling up’ the north when there are so many question marks about something as basic as improving rail connections between our towns and cities,” Dan added.
“We desperately need the government to provide clarity on their plans for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail serving our region.
“We have an ambition to ensure there’s a service from Barnsley to London, but in order to make that happen work will have to take place.
“They’re prolonging the uncertainty for businesses and people living on the proposed HS2 route in the north.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson added: “The Integrated Rail Plan will soon outline exactly how major rail projects, including HS2 phase 2b and other transformational projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, will work together to deliver the reliable train services that passengers across the north need and deserve.”